Coronavirus – how are child arrangements impacted following a separation or divorce?

What should you do if you and your household are self isolating, but your child[ren] are due to spend time with their other parent, or family member such as a grandparent over the Easter holidays?

Equally, what should you do if your child is staying with you, but is due to be returned before any period of self isolation ends? Common sense and safety in the interests of your children should prevail, rather than becoming upset with the other parent or rushing to court to seek to enforce the delivery or return of a child in these circumstances, save where the child is at risk of harm by remaining where they are [other than the risk of catching coronavirus].

We live in extraordinary times and the more that parents can work together to provide mutual support if the children are not at school, whilst parents are home working, or in coping with the disappointment of not going on a planned holiday, the better for the children. Parents should follow government guidance and  ideally take steps to minimise risk of cross infection between households by limiting social contact/ group activities and travel at this time.    

The more notice you can give the other parent of the change in circumstances the better. Be constructive and perhaps propose some alternate time once a period of self isolation has ended. It may be helpful also if a court order is in place to write to the court by email to explain what has happened and why any order can’t be honoured on given dates, so there is a paper trail, you will have done what you can and the court is at least aware. If CAFCASS or children services  are preparing a report as to the children arrangements, let them know also.

If you fear that your former partner may just be using coronavirus as an excuse to limit or cancel parenting time and have good reason to think this, you may wish to take legal advice in the first instance.   

Although we are following guidance to work at home as much as possible at this time, we are continuing to work and support our clients. We are available for telephone meetings and written advice, which can be set up to your convenience.